What does the name "Jesse" mean from the Bible and its original language? What language does the name come from? And, are there any important Bible study implications from the meaning?

From the first occurance, it could have a loaded meaning, but we are uncertain. Could there be any passages with loaded meaning?

First occurrence:

Ruth 4:17 (NASB)

The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

In the first occurance, Jesse's father Obed is named with the backstory of how he received that name. But his son Jesse and his, David, had no backstory. This seems that the name's meaning could be either obvious or inconsequential.

Other important occurrences:

1 Sam 17:12 (NASB)

Now David was the son of the Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, whose name was Jesse, and he had eight sons. And Jesse was old in the days of Saul, advanced in years among men.

Isaiah 11:1 (NASB)

Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

Isaiah 11:10 (NASB)

Then in that day

The nations will resort to the root of Jesse,

Who will stand as a signal for the peoples;

And His resting place will be glorious.

Why does Isaiah describe Jesse in a seemingly messianic prophecy, not Obed (the first father from Ruth) nor David (the first king in the line)? Could the meaning of Jesse's name have bearing on this?

Matthew 1:6 (NASB)

Jesse was the father of David the king.

David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.

  • This is in direct response to a Meta Question I asked, from the answer here.
    – Jesse
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 15:55
  • 1
    Every lexicon I consulted said, "meaning uncertain", or "uncertain derivation". That is, we do not know.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 21:11
  • As discussed in Meta, I think this question is off-topic as you haven't given a passage where the text itself provides a meaning for the name Jesse.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 23:10
  • Nearly all names' meanings are self-evident to people who know the original language. Consulting lexicons is one thing, but names are hybrid word-studies which can have hermeneutical ramifications. After the community has time to answer, I may take my recent comment from the Meta and formulate it into a cross-reference study as an Answer here. Etymological studies of names in their stories would certainly shed light on what the original audience understood.
    – Jesse
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 23:45
  • The Meta has interesting discussion on how this is or is not on topic. I'm considering my own answer after I select a correct answer from others. Jesse arguably did not live up to his name since he lied to Samuel about David's presence. But, lexical-etymological meanings of "Obed - Jesse - David" are strikingly similar to "for unto us a child is born" "...in the City of David" Is 9:6, Lk 2:11, and thus may not have meaning for Jesse's life beyond messianic-related prophecy.
    – Jesse
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 0:07

2 Answers 2


I post this as a second answer because I wish to give credit to the person who provided the information. I went to the Mi Yodeya site to ask about any lexical-etymological meanings of the name Jesse and this is the only answer I received:

My Question: I would like to know if the name Jesse means "King" or "God's gift" (according to Wikipedia) since it was his son David who was anointed to replace Saul as king over Israel.

Answer: According to the Daath Miqra (Samuel 1, 16:2), the name Yishai has two possible origins. One possibility is that it is an abbreviated form of a theophoric name Ishyah or Ishyahu, אישיהו/אישיה, meaning "man of God". Alternatively it is an abbreviated form of Yeshya (ישיה), there is a God. I have also heard (I do not know if any traditional sources state this), that it could be a contraction of יש (yesh, there is) and שי (shai, present), "there's a present" (i.e. Yishai was a present from God).

My Question: Is there a lexical-etymological link or similarity with the meanings of "Obed - Jesse - David"?

Answer: David is usually assumed to be a derivative of yedid (beloved), and Obed is servant (i.e. a servant of God).

My Question: A claim made by a 12th century monk that "Jesse belonged to the royal family". Which royal family?

Answer: Yishai descended from Boaz and Ruth. Boaz was a descendant of Nahshon ben Aminadav. Nahshon was a nasi (prince) of the tribe of Yehudah.

Additional Comments: the tribe of yehudah was specified as the tribe that the kings would come from. Miriam married Nachshon and King David came from her-sabbahillel (Genesis 49:10)

Source: https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/128534/what-is-the-meaning-of-the-name-yishai-hebrew-%d7%99%d6%b4%d7%a9%d6%b7%d7%81%d7%99-yi%c5%a1ay-in-pausa-%d7%99%d6%b4%d7%a9%d6%b8%d7%81%d7%99/128536#128536

I don't know if this is useful information or not, but I am unable to go any further with your question.


A quick search unearthed the following information about the name Jesse:

Jesse (/ˈdʒɛsi/) or Yishai (Hebrew: יִשַׁי – Yišay, in pausa יִשָׁי‎ – Yišāy, meaning "King" or "God's gift"; Syriac: ܐܝܫܝ – Eshai; Greek: Ἰεσσαί – Iessaí; Latin: Issai, Isai, Jesse. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse

Jesse is a given name, mostly masculine, of English and Dutch origin. The given name was derived from the Hebrew name Yishai (Hebrew: יִשַׁי‎, Modern: Yišay, Tiberian: Yīšáy), which either means "God's gift", "God exist, or "King". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_(given_name)

Jesse means “gift of God” (from Hebrew “sháy/ש י” = present/gift), but as well “God exists” (from Hebrew “yésh/י ש ” = there is/there exist).

I apologise for not saving the link to the last meaning (above).

  • That's great, but I'd also like to see if anyone finds it to have any interpretive meaning for a text.
    – Jesse
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 23:56
  • I had to sign-off before I could do any further research. It's now Thursday morning and I hope to look into this aspect of your question later this afternoon.
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 9:57
  • I've put some feelers out regarding the lexical-etymological meanings of "Obed - Jesse - David" but I think it might take a day or two to get a response.
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 17:17

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